Friday, June 22, 2012

NMUSD Selects Dr. Frederick Navarro As Superintendent

THE BEST...
After a lengthy process that included winnowing out the best from 50 applicants, including lengthy interviews by the Community Interview Committee, the Trustees of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District announced their choice of Dr. Frederick Navarro as the new Superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District
GLOWING REVIEWS BY TRUSTEES
In a lengthy press release, which can be accessed via the district website announcing the selection, HERE, several Trustees spoke in glowing terms about Dr. Navarro and his accomplishments.  He is presently Superintendent of Schools for the Lennox School District, up near the Los Angeles International Airport area.


HE'S BEEN HERE BEFORE
Dr. Navarro certainly knows what he's getting into by accepting this job, having been an educator in this district in the past.  He was the Principal of Costa Mesa High School from 2002 - 2005.  He was Director of Secondary Curriculum 2005 - 2006.  He left NMUSD to become Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Anaheim, 2006 - December, 2010.  He has served in his position in Lennox since January, 2011.


SOLID CREDENTIALS
Dr. Navarro received his Bachelors degree from Cal State Dominguez Hills in 1981, his Master's degree from UCLA in 1984 and his PhD, also from UCLA, in 2000.


CONTRACT APPROVAL NEXT WEEK
His contract will be approved by the Board at the meeting on June 26, 2012.  Dr. Navarro does not plan to relocate from his current home to accept this job.


THE ESSENCE OF THE CHOICE
Among the many quotes from Trustees is this one from President Dave Brooks that may capture the essence of the selection:
"Dr. Navarro is a dedicated professional who cares deeply about educating all students. His integrity is above reproach, he is accessible, a good communicator and finds ways to get things done. We believe he will serve our students in an outstanding manner.”


MOVING FORWARD
Hopefully, this appointment will allow the NMUSD to move forward with the important work of educating ALL the children of this district.  Dr. Navarro brings a record of very significant accomplishment and leadership to his new job.  We here at A Bubbling Cauldron wish him well and congratulate the Trustees and the members of the community who participated in this process for a job well done.

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It's "Barrett-Jackson" Time Again!

THIS IS THE REAL DEAL!
OK, if you read this immediately after I post it you'll only be a couple hours late to the opening of the 2012 version of the Barrett-Jackson experience at the Orange County Fair and Event Center! HERE.

YOU'RE ALREADY TWO HOURS LATE!
That's right, Barrett-Jackson is back for the third year this weekend and the gates opened at 8:00 a.m. this morning and will do so Saturday and Sunday, too.  You can read the entire schedule of events for all three days HERE.

CRUISE ON OVER TO THE FAIRGROUNDS
If you're a car person, this is the place to be this weekend in Costa Mesa.  You don't necessarily have to go bid at the auction on one of those fantastic machines - but wouldn't it be fun?  So, drag yourself off the couch, cruise over to the Fairgrounds sometime this weekend and have a great time.


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Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Tis The Season...


HERE WE GO...
Well, this is how it begins, folks.


KRUPP TAKES ON MCCARTHY
Announced Costa Mesa City Council candidate Marshall Krupp today sent a letter to the Newport Mesa Unified School District with a copy to the California Fair Political Practices Committee, pointing out what he felt was a violation of School District and State rules governing the use of "school resources" for political purposes.


USE OF ESTANCIA CHEER SQUAD
It seems that Krupp takes exception to the participation of the Estancia High School Cheer Squad at a recent fund-raiser for Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy's run for City Council this fall.  In his three-page communication he quotes chapter and verse from regulations he feels may have been violated, including the sections that define the penalties - including jail time - for such offenses.  You can read his letter HERE
.

 THE SLATE
And we have not even reached the official filing date yet!  This is going to be a long, hot summer on the campaign trail, with McCarthy, Steve Mensinger and Gary Monahan apparently running as part of a slate supported - emotionally, philosophically and financially - by the Orange County Republican Party in their quest to completely take over Costa Mesa and the special districts that serve it.  We don't know all the names of those opposing them, but Krupp apparently is one of them.

STRAP IN
So, dear readers, it's time to strap yourselves in, make sure your crap-o-meter is in good working order and listen to and read what the candidates have to say.  It's going to be brutal!

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The Price Of Amore'

RIECKHOF IN THE NEWS
Well, as most folks already know, Costa Mesa police officer Allen Rieckhof has been in the news over the past two days.  The courts sided with him on his claim that he wasn't given due process in the events that followed his alleged romance with a Costa Mesa woman the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009.  You can read the Daily Pilot article HERE and the Orange County Register piece - which includes links to court documents, HERE.  You can also watch the 3 minute video clip from Kcal9 News last night HERE that includes an irate rant from Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer - Rieckhof's nemesis during the 2010 campaign season.

IT'S NEWS TO ME...
I didn't know about this situation with Rieckhof back when it supposedly happened.  Like all personnel matters, this was kept quiet - appropriately so.  The processes in place to handle this kind of a situation seemed to have been followed, but the court reviewing it disagreed and found for Rieckhof.  Theoretically, that should be the end of the story.


 RIGHEIMER WANTS A SCALP
However, it's not where Righeimer is concerned.  No sir, he's not going to let these guys "get away" with anything!  Hence, his appearance on the news last night in front of City Hall late in the evening.  If memory serves me correctly, Rieckhof was the President of the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association during the election in 2010.

 HERE'S A VIEW OF THE SITUATION
An impatient commenter on this blog posted the following entry, typos and all, on my previous post:

I Don't think we're getting the entire story regarding the cop on duty thing...funny that OC Register writer Terry Sforza was the one to come out with that first...wasnt she the one who couldnt print something critical of Riggy? Now Riggy can get his pudgy face in the news to comment even though the city won't? And isnt this cop the former CMPA President who Riggy/Bever have so much disdain for, the one that towed the billboard behind his truck? So now that he beat them because, yet again, the city cannot follow due processes and according to the judge did not prove any dereliction of duty, his plight gets plastered all over the media...I'm REAL sure there was no call to the register when the city lost (tongue in cheek)...somehow, this looks like payback from Jimbo..

Now I get being upset if the city proved this stuff was ongoing during time he should be working...you don't crap where you eat...


However, from what i've read, it appears the officer met with this girl he was dating during his break and lunch times, which he took all at once, instead of spread throughout his shift. One neighbor indicated once they believed he arrived at 11 and left at 3am...i'm guessing he was off duty by 11, since I dont know of any agency that allows motorcycle officers to work until 3 am.


The officer was still productive, did not shirk any calls or responsibilities and in fact is a highly decorated award winning officer who met his "girlfriend"

during his breaks and after work?
So if an officer lives in the city, and decides to go home to see wife and kids for dinner for his hour break, is that any different?

Plain and simple, the city did not prove its case and it sounds like in the process they violated his peace officers rights.


Sounds like payback and mudslinging to me...

I suspect I might hear back from him on this post, too.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What do you think?  Should a police officer be precluded from having a relationship and using his meal time to occasionally consummate it?  Now that the courts have found in his favor, should our local politicians be out posturing for the cameras simply because Rieckhof opposed his candidacy?  Who looks worse in this situation?

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

As Predicted - Another Long Meeting

YAWN... ANOTHER LONG ONE 
OK, where do you start when discussing another long, long council meeting?  The one last night/this morning stretched from 6:00 p.m. Tuesday until 1:30 a.m. today.  And, as is usually the case, once the clock moves past midnight most councils - and this one in particular - simply do not perform at their best.  You can read the agenda HERE.  If you wish, the video feed of the council meeting is up and can be viewed HERE.  And you can read Thy Vo's coverage of the meeting in the Orange County Register HERE.

GOOD STUFF IN COSTA MESA
The meeting DID begin on a positive note, with presentations being made to a group of local Girl Scouts for their individual outstanding contributions to the community; to a representative of the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction, which begins at the Orange County Fair and Event Center this Friday and runs through the weekend and the introduction of the new Commanding Officer of the 1/5 Marine Battalion from Camp Pendleton, Lt. Col. Terry Johnson.


GOOD MOVE, MAYOR
Mayor Eric Bever made a "command decision" of his own and decided to move New Business Item #1, the discussion of a resolution opposing Alternative #3 of the I-405 Improvement Project, to the front of the line, apparently in recognition of the large turnout of concerned residents on this issue.  Good move, Eric.  Unfortunately, it may have been his ONLY good move at this meeting.  So, that item was heard following Public Comments, Council Member Comments and the CEO Report.



 CRITICS MAKE THEIR POINTS
Following the Public Comments, where nearly a dozen speakers used their time to offer constructive criticism to the council - including observations that recent comments from the dais were sounding more and more like campaign stump speeches and that courtesy and decorum was lacking, Bever led off his comments by attempting to refute the claims by some speakers that crime in Costa Mesa is on the rise.    Astounding!

 RIGHEIMER PATS HIMSELF ON THE BACK
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer used his time to puff himself up about the "great job" THIS council is doing improving infrastructure and "right-sizing" government.  And, in his own special way, he found a way to weave yet another insensitive comment into his presentation, paraphrasing the recently-deceased Rodney King, saying, "It would be nice if we could all just get along."

MENSINGER WAS, WELL, MENSINGER
Steve Mensinger
used much of his time to practice his stump speech.  It needs a lot of work!


  HATCH CLARIFIES THE FITZPATRICK REPLACEMENT SCENARIO
During his report CEO Tom Hatch mentioned the recent OC Grand Jury Gold Honor Roll for Transparency that Costa Mesa received.  I mentioned this in an earlier post.  He also confirmed that applications are being taken until Friday, July 29th, for a replacement for Jim Fitzpatrick on the Planning Commission.  He also confirmed that the Planning Commission will review the applications and make a recommendation to the City Council, who will make the ultimate choice for a person to fill the remainder of Fitzpatrick's term - through January 2015.  There had been some confusion about just how long this appointment would be for and Hatch cleared that up.


I-405 IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
Finally, at 7:30, the discussion of the I-405 Improvement Project began.  The council had already sent strong signals that they were not happy with Alternative #3, which would create years of construction chaos in the north part of town and provide virtually NO benefit to Costa Mesa.  By this time more than 125 people were in the auditorium, at least half of whom were there only for this subject.


TCA SUPPORTS ALT. #3
During their comments some of the council members presented us with very memorable moments.  Bever, for example, compared the proposed toll lanes as a kind of "reverse wealth redistribution".  Gary Monahan, a member of the Transportation Corridor Authority, told the crowd that the TCA recently voted to support Alternative #3, with only Supervisor Bates voting with Monahan to oppose it.  He also told us that a member from Irvine chastised him for his vote.  Each council member who spoke encouraged the audience to send comments to CalTrans.  The deadline for public review has been extended until July 17th.  The OCTA Highways Committee will make a recommendation at the meeting at 10:30 a.m. on August 6th and the full OCTA Board will make its choice a week later.


MOST SPEAKERS OPPOSED #3
The first nineteen speakers on this issue were strongly opposed to Alternative #3, and a couple were also opposed to ANY of the choices because of the personal impact on their property.  Folks from Nevada Street, for example, were VERY concerned about the impact of the modification of the Ellis ramp that will apparently place a 20 foot high sound wall within 10 feet of their homes!  In a nutshell, nobody wants Alternative #3.


EXCEPT DON HANSEN...
The final speaker - the 20th - was Huntington Beach Mayor - and our representative on the OCTA Board - Don Hansen, who is rumored to be eyeballing John Moorlach's chair on the Board of Supervisors in 2014.  Bever gave Hansen nearly 15 minutes to plead his case to the council to NOT pass the resolution.  He asked the council to, instead, send a letter of concern to the OCTA Board along with any and all letters opposing any of the alternatives.  Hansen is also the Chairman of the Highways sub-committee that will first decide on alternatives.  He asked that the council consider the broader impact - that this is a regional issue.  His pleas fell on deaf ears.  Finally, Monahan made the motion to pass the resolution after addressing Hansen, telling him that he understands his view and, while he'd like to honor his request, he said, "I just can't" - and made the motion.  Did I mention that Monahan is running for re-election this year?  The vote was 5-0.  This is one of those rare issues that had total council and community support.  The vote was taken at 9:05, followed by a 20 minute break.


THE "BEGINNING" IN THE MIDDLE
At 9:25 the council finally began the front part of the agenda with the Consent Calendar and I knew we were in for another long, long night.  Among the highlights of those discussions was Item #7, the Request for Proposal for Municipal Facilities Maintenance.  Insufficient responses had been received to the original RFP so the staff wanted to carve it up and re-issue.  Jennifer Muir, Assistant General Manager of the Orange County Employees Association, who represents the interests of the Costa Mesa City Employees Association, told the council that if they proceeded they would be violating the terms of their policy 100-6.  Despite the recommendation of contract City Attorney Tom Duarte to hold off, the council chose to proceed on a 3-2 vote - with Bever and Wendy Leece voting no.  Bever, correctly, smelled another lawsuit.


ANOTHER RULE VIOLATION?
Item #9, a contract with several entities to provide Building Inspection and Fire Prevention services, was also opposed by Muir, citing a violation of the injunction.  The council voted 4-1 to proceed with the contracts.


HUNTINGTON BEACH CHOPPER CONTRACT EXTENDED
And, the council agreed to extend the arrangement with the City of Huntington Beach for helicopter services through June, 2015 for a total not exceeding $300,000 annually.


CDBG GRANTS
Finally, at 10:05, we reached the first Public Hearing to be discussed - Item #2 on the agenda (#1 had been withdrawn), the first of three discussions of the distribution of Community Development Block Grand funds.  Righeimer left the room because he's on the Board of Mercy House - one of the proposed recipients.  The discussion continued without him until a vote was taken to approve the recommendation on Mercy House a half-hour later.  He then returned for the remainder of the discussion.   The discussion was lively, with Monahan complaining at length about the lack, or near lack, of funding for organizations that served the disabled.  When the final vote was taken Bever offered a solution - he yanked the funding earmarked for the MIKA Development corporation - Crissy Brooks' excellent organization - and plugged it into one of those groups Monahan was complaining about.  Bingo!


WILL ALL GRANTS BE ELIMINATED?
Perhaps the most distressing issue was the apparent interest this council has on doing away with these grants completely!  Leece suggested a study session to evaluate this situation and Bever implied that he wouldn't be around to be involved in it, so the discussion should take place when the next council is seated next year.


WHERE'S COSTA MESA'S HEART?
Public Hearing #3 dealt with the demise of the Neighbors for Neighbors program.  During the discussion, Righeimer once again demonstrated his sensitive side when he questioned the value of spending "$60,000 in staff time to feel good".  It's clear from his tone, and that of Mensinger, that they are NOT in favor of this kind of community outreach if it involves spending federal dollars.  As Bever said, "borrowing money from China to paint a neighbor's house".  They went round and round on this philosophy... it doesn't look good for the future of these kinds of programs if they stay in control.  Just wait until they have a hand-crafted Charter in place!  Holy Cow!

THE BUDGET
At 11:30 p.m. the council finally got around to discussing the 2012/2013 Municipal Budget!  I knew we were in big trouble.


HATCH ON LAYOFFS
Hatch launched the discussion by briefly describing the amount of work by staff and the council in putting together this final document.  He addressed the layoffs of four individuals - the Information Technology Manager, two staffers from the Building Division and a staff member in the City Clerk's office - as an essential part of the equation.  Their departure - which was assured by the final vote - theoretically saves the City over $400,000.  Those individuals - all long-time employees - will receive 30 day layoff notices today.


  YOUNG WITH THE NUMBERS
Finance and Information Technology Director Bobby Young then took the baton and presented the details of the numbers.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, this budget represents a 15.37% increase over last year.  The Capital Budget is up almost 100%!  The details of the budget can be found HERE.


LEECE - NEED MORE COPS
Leece expressed great concern about rising crime with a diminished police force and suggested cuts elsewhere to provide the funding for an additional 6 officers, which would bring the authorized strength to 137 - the number consultants Management Partners recommended a year ago.  The remainder of the council pushed back, with Bever stating that public safety - police and fire - represent 60% of the General Fund budget and he was quite happy with that level.  Monahan suggested greater use of Reserve Officers and proposed the hourly rate for those staffers be increased to $33.00 per hour to enhance recruitment.


LEGAL FEES?
Leece also expressed concern for the mounting legal fees and the possibility of legal costs involved with the I-405 Improvement Project and other labor-related issues discussed earlier.  Hatch and Duarte suggested that the level budgeted is just fine.  I guess we'll find out.  If history is any guide, we're in a lot of trouble!



RIGHEIMER'S RANT
Perhaps the most interesting part of this discussion was Righeimer's rant.  He implied that the fire fighters should be happy to have a job and suggested that all the bargaining unit employees were greedy.  He complained that speakers talked of issues in current negotiations.  Of all his statements at this meeting, this one may have been the most distressing.  Addressing the fact that Costa Mesa City Employee Association President Helen Nenedal stepped to the podium and requested reconsideration for the layoffs of the four employees, he said the following:

 "Wake up!  Get out there and see what the real world's going through!  The problem with your association, the unions in this city is that you've been overreaching for so long there's nothing left to ask for and this council's finally saying No.

If you want to watch the whole thing, go to that link at the top and, once there, use the "jump" feature to go to the budget presentation.


PASSED JUST BEFORE 1:00 A.M.
So, at 12:45 a.m. before a crowd of 25 people, on a 4-1 vote (Leece voting no) the council passed the budget as proposed, including the 4 layoffs.  I have this feeling that this next fiscal year is going to be a very, very long and painful time.


TWO RFPs
Next came the two RFPs - one for Graphic Design and one for Reprographics.  The first one proposes outsourcing the Graphic Design function to a local company that involves no layoffs and would save the City a few bucks - around $10,000.  One of the current two graphic designers plans to retire next month and the other will remain on staff for what Communication Director Bill Lobdell called a "hybrid" operation - with in-house and outsourced work being done.  Former City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow - special counsel for outsourcing issues - said the City will try to work out a deal with the CMCEA to make this work, since it technically violates the current injunction against outsourcing to private companies.  It was approved 4-1, with Leece voting no.  One of the funny moments during that discussion was Mensinger chiming in and wanting to read a segment of the staff report on this subject.  Only problem was, he was reading the wrong staff report.  Pay attention, Steve!  Or, as your pal, Righeimer says, "Wake Up!"


PRINTING OUTSOURCED TO COUNTY GROUP
The second item, Reprographics, will outsource the in-house printing function - the incumbent printer will soon retire - and get rid of the equipment.  The organization that will take over these operations is a county entity, Orange County Publishing Services.  It passed on a 4-1 vote, Leece voting no.  It will become effective immediately.



AUDITOR OUT!
The final item, Steve Mensinger's demand that we cancel our contract with auditor Mayer, Hoffman, McCann because of their involvement in the Bell scandal, commenced at 1:00 a.m. this morning!  Arrgghh!  And, as tired as I and the other two residents still in the auditorium may have been, the discussion and outcome was even more painful.    First, Bever chose NOT to have one of the owners of the company to address the council - a shabby move, for sure.  Then, when Wendy Leece invited him to speak, it was obvious that NONE of the council members had a clue what an auditing company actually does.  Righeimer was "astounded" that their representatives didn't see anything wrong at Bell.  Of course, what Righeimer was looking at was NOT part of the job the auditors were hired to do.  He just couldn't seem to grasp that concept.  Same with Mensinger.  After the representative from Mayer, Hoffman, McCann was grilled mercilessly, Mensinger still maintained that they should be cut loose and that an alternate firm retained, even though this will mean significantly more work for the Finance staff as they get a new firm up to speed.  After all that budget unpleasantness over the past three months, this was a real punch in the gut for Young and his staff.  It's not like he doesn't have enough on his plate now, especially with Rick Kirkbride, the IT Manager, turned loose last Thursday.


ON TO THE CHARTER...
On to the next drama - the ongoing battle of Jim Righeimer's Charter - which will continue early next month with the second and final public hearing.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Another Marathon Meeting Anticipated Tuesday


ANOTHER LONG MEETING ANTICIPATED
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 the Costa Mesa City Council will hold its next regularly scheduled meeting beginning at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall.  The meeting will be preceded by a Closed Session starting at 5:00 p.m.

A SUMMARY
Ahead in this edition you'll read about, not necessarily in order:

  • The potential approval of the Fiscal Year 2012/2013 Municipal Budget
  • The potential resolution by the City Council about the proposed I-405 Improvement Project
  • The extension of the helicopter services Memorandum of Understanding with Huntington Beach for 3 more years
  • The legal bills keep on stacking up
  • The RFP for Facilities Maintenance to be modified and re-issued
  • A contract with five (5) separate companies to provide building safety and fire prevention plan review and inspection services
  • The renewed Measure M (M2) Eligibility
  • Public hearings on Federally-funded programs
  • The re-naming of the Redevelopment and Residential Rehabilitation (3R) Committee
  • The possible termination of the annual independent financial audit services with Mayer, Hoffman, McCann, P.C.
  • RFPs for Graphic Design Services and Reprographics
CONSENT CALENDAR
Right off the bat, the Consent Calendar is chock full of items that are ripe for picking.  Council members or residents can pull any item for separate discussion and vote. 
  • Among those of special interest might be Warrant #2424, HERE, which includes a payment to Jones and Mayer of more than $112,000 for legal services.
  • An agreement, HERE,  with five companies to provide building safety and fire prevention plan review and inspection services for more than $500,000.
  • Extension for 3 years of the Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Huntington Beach for helicopter services, not to exceed $300,000 annually, HERE.  We paid that city just under $24,000 for those services for April, 2012 based on the warrants attached to the staff report.
  • Measure M (M2) Renewal and 7-year Capital Improvement Plan, HERE
PUBLIC HEARINGS
There are five (5) Public Hearings on the agenda Tuesday, although #1, a helipad on a roof near John Wayne Airport, has apparently subsequently been withdrawn. 

FEDERAL DOLLARS

Items 2, 3 and 4 deal with Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME) funding.

  GRANT ALLOCATIONS
Item #2, the 2012/2013 CDBG Public Service Grant Allocations, HERE, informs us that there has been a reduction in funds available for this program of more than 15%, so this year we will have only $157,502 available to distribute to those organizations who apply.  A review of the proposed grant recommendations by the 3R Committee, HERE,  provide an interesting picture for your consideration.  EVERY organization will receive less than they requested and less than the current year's allocation with two exceptions.  Mercy House - Homeless Prevention (Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer is on the board of this organization) will receive $19,002 - double the allocation for the current year and less than half what they requested even though they were among the lowest ranked by the 3R Committee.  The City of Costa Mesa HCD - Homeless Outreach will receive $35,000 - the full amount requested.

FUNDING PRIORITIES

Item #3 , Funding Priorities for the CDBG and HOME programs, HERE, is an interesting story.  Basically, the program has been gutted of staff as you can clearly read in the staff report.  I won't go over them - you can read about them if you wish - but another big part of this item is the staff recommendation to completely reconfigure the 3R committee and make it an ad hoc committee instead of a standing committee.  This is  very big deal because that committee has arguably been the most powerful committee in the city in recent years.  The city will have $1,344,664 in CDBG funds and $461,320 in HOME funds to use in FY 2012/2013.

ACTION PLAN

Item #4, Approval of an amendment to the 2011/2012 Action Plan, HERE, is a discussion and possible resolution on the use of the funds mentioned above.

BODIES CHOPPED!
Item #5 is the 2012/2013 Municipal Budget, HERE.  This one may take you some time to digest, especially when the staff report jumps right in with the elimination of four (4) positions as the preamble to the remainder of the discussion.  In fact, the four individuals who occupied those jobs until last Thursday, when they were unceremoniously shown the door at City Hall, are officially on paid leave until the budget passes.  At that point they will be given 30 day notice of their jobs being eliminated and will be off the payroll at the end of a month.  And, the choices of individual positions to be eliminated is curious, to say the least.  For example, at the busiest time of any year for the City Clerk's office - the run-up to and through a municipal election - somebody decided to dump an Office Specialist II slot.  And this happens when the City Clerk is on paid administrative leave while a "clerical error" is being investigated and a temporary, Interim City Clerk has been hired.

I.T. MANAGER GONE!
Even stranger is the elimination of the Information Technology Manager position.  That organization, which has been burdened with an antiquated system for years, is apparently scheduled for multi-million dollar upgrades to everything - every computer, wire, connection, etc. soon.  One would think that the IT Manager would be our de facto Project Manager on this kind of a undertaking.  Bobby Young, Director of Finance and Information Technology has a platter that is already overflowing, so he can't take on that job.  What I expect to see is another consultant hired to ramrod this project - sound familiar? - leaving NO CITY EMPLOYEE in the loop.

 TWO DEVELOPMENT SERVICES STAFFERS, TOO
The other two sliced positions are in the Building Division of the Development Services Department, where two Office Specialists were axed on the assumption that the addition of two new Code Enforcement Officers will pick up the slack - even though one of them will be assigned full time to the Police Department.   Funny, we're ramping-up a huge effort to attract businesses to our city and to encourage folks to buy and upgrade their homes yet we slice two persons with very significant experience and institutional knowledge from the very staff that would be needed to provide services to that effort.  Will somebody explain that to me, please?

  MORE THAN 15% INCREASE -  CAPITAL SPENDING DOUBLED!
Back to the budget.  This year the "conservative" council is proposing a $132,676,130 All Funds budget - up 15.45%!  The General Fund budget is proposed for $101,119,710, up "only" 6.84%.  The Capital Budget - roads, streets, parks and other infrastructure - is $20,796,936, a whopping 98.17% increase!


 THIS IS "CONSERVATIVE"?
In the General Fund budget we actually have a $55,225 surplus, but in the All Funds budget - the whole enchilada - we must use almost $8 million in Fund Balances to make the numbers work.  Does this sound "conservative" to you?  Of course not!  No, these guys have gutted the staff, refused to permit filling of vacancies in public safety areas (Even though Chief Tom Gazsi has taken the initiative to begin a three-pronged recruitment effort for police officers because of the long lead time necessary to fill those jobs) and still nearly double the Capital budget!  Read Attachment A from the budget proposal HERE.

A GUTTED STAFF
As of last week the actually city head count was hovering just below 430 individuals.  This is down from a high of 611 before the economy kicked us and everyone else in the teeth beginning in 2008.  Virtually every department in our city government has realized very significant staff cuts - except one.  That would be the CEO's office, which has increased the headcount by more than 50%.  Note Jennifer Muir's recent commentary on that subject HERE.
UPSIDE DOWN PRIORITIES
It's clear to me that this council, with the actions they have and are taking, have absolutely no idea what "service to the public" is all about.  They are gutting the staff and building an upside-down pyramid, with large numbers of managers at the top and very few workers at the bottom.  Eighteen months ago, when Righeimer and his crew first initiated their "outsourcing plan" I joked that their idea of a perfect city staff would be Tom Hatch and a half dozen contract administrators to manage the outsourced operations.  Well, that was funny at the time... not so funny now.
 OLD BUSINESS
Under Old Business on the agenda the first item is the discussion of councilman Steve Mensinger's demand that the City divorce itself from  the audit firm of Mayer, Hoffman, McCann, P.C., whom we just hired to perform those services for us, because of their role in the City of Bell debacle.  The staff is recommending that we NOT terminate the contract and the staff report, HERE, provides the reasoning behind it.  This should make for an interesting discussion.

  I-405 IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
Item #2 under New Business is a discussion of a resolution by the City Council to support Alternatives 1 and 2 and opposing #3 in the I-405 Improvement Project, HERE.  It is anticipated that there will be a LARGE crowd on hand to hear this item, and there is some thought that it might be moved forward on the agenda for that reason, so I suggest you arrive early if you expect to have a seat.  It has become apparent to me as I attended two of the four community meetings on this subject conducted by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and Cal Trans that they seem locked into Alternative #3, the one that establishes a High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lane for the 14 mile length of the project.  The only reason I can see for doing that is to generate revenue.  Some folks in town suspect those revenues might be used to help pay down the debt for other toll roads in the county - like the 73 Toll Road, for example.  I've also heard a few minutes ago that the period for public review on this issue has been extended until July 17, 2012 and that OCTA Regional Planning and Highways Committee will consider a locally preferred alternative on August 6th and the item goes to the full board on August 13th.  You'll find this essay from the Orange Juice Blog by Major Quimby of interest on this subject, HERE.  He tells us we, the people, are entitled to vote again on this issue because a toll road was not anticipated in the Measure M 2 dialogue.

TRICKY IMPLEMENTATION
Item #2 is the RFP for Graphic Design Services, HERE.  The City is going to try to figure a way to immediately implement this proposal because, except for the retirement of an individual, other staff reductions are anticipated under this contract.  It should be interesting to hear what the Costa Mesa City Employees Association has to say about this.

IMMEDIATE IMPLEMENTATION
Item #3 is the RFP for Reprographics, HERE.  The proposal is from the Orange County Publishing Services - a government entity.  As a result, the City plans to immediately implement this contract, close the print shop and eliminate the Offset Press Operator position when the incumbent retires soon.


 ANOTHER LONG NIGHT AHEAD
It's going to be a full evening tomorrow... I'll be very surprised if we get out of City Hall before midnight.  And, as I've said many times before, these guys don't make good decisions after midnight.

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